The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

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Slow Down, Notice and Enjoy

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This is a 2nd blog edition offering you tidbits on bringing awareness to the act of eating. With awareness a new layer of wellness is revealed that comes from within you! The process of increasing eating awareness is really the same for everyone. One begins by simply slowing down and noticing. Think of it as observing yourself – simply observing your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They are in constant play as we travel through our day and are part of what makes us a unique individual.

Slow down. If we could all slow down just a little bit! We live in a fast-paced society that allows for little time to pause, little time to reflect. Dr. Stephanie Brown, author of “Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster — and Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down”, outlines a strong case for the benefits of slowing down and the hazards of multi-tasking.

How do we slow down with eating? We begin with the act of a pause. Turn off the TV, remove the newspaper, magazine or school work, move away from the computer screen.

Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., RD suggests slowly reciting a series of words just moments before we eat to bring our attention to the act of eating. Think of what each word or phrase means as you read:

Relax. Be attentive. Savor. Take your time. Be deliberate. Give thanks. Don’t rush.  Experience every bite. Take only what you need. Be gracious. Live in dignity. Treat yourself well. Enjoy those with you.

Write these words on 3” by 5” cards. Place a card on your dining table at home, in your car and at work. Pause. Step away from eating on ‘auto-pilot’.

Notice.  Remain in the moment as you begin, during and as you end the meal. Notice sensations of hunger before a meal and fullness as you end a meal. There are many hunger-fullness rating scales available. The following was created by Debra Waterhouse:

10 – Absolutely, positively, lie-on-the-floor stuffed
9 – So full, starting to hurt
8 – Very full and bloated
7 – Feels food in stomach, comfortably full
6 – Feels food in stomach, not yet comfortably full
5 – No sense of food in stomach, no hunger signals
4 – First, early signals that your body needs food
3 – Stronger signals to eat
2 – Very hungry, irritable
1 – Extreme hunger, dizziness

Listen to your body. How often do you eat when physically hungry? How often do you eat to point of uncomfortable fullness? For now, just notice. If you are not physically hungry, why do you eat? Consider that eating can truly only solve those problems associated with hunger and a physical need for nourishment.

Enjoy. Enjoying eating allows you to experience every bite – the first, the last and all the bites in-between. Allow the attention you bring to eating to enliven your senses: sight, smell, texture, hearing and taste. Notice when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the act of eating the next bite. Eating in this way allows you to mindfully consider the following. Am I enjoying this? Am I reaching fullness?  Can I be done eating now? When we do not notice the enjoyment of food, we miss out on being satisfied on just the right amount.

You can become a more mindful, aware eater. Just like any new skill the journey is in the daily practice.

Ann Reidenbach, MPH, RD, CD of Reidenbach Nutrition, LLC

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Bringing Awareness to the Act of Eating

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This Week’s Recipe

There is an abundance of health and nutrition information available to us from health professionals, books, the internet, coaches, store clerks, friends and family. Most of this information, sometimes conflicting, offers us tips on what and where to eat. It can be difficult to sift through all of the information coming at us leaving one to consider “what is really right for me?”

You might consider slowing down all of that chatter in your mind about food, weight and health and consider a focus on self awareness. This blog edition – and 2 more to follow – will offer you a foundation of how bringing awareness to the act of eating can improve eating behaviors and attitudes opening a new layer of wellness that comes from within you! This process of increasing eating awareness is really the same for everyone. One begins by simply noticing and learning, without judgment, about one’s unique relationship with food and the act of eating. Think of it as observing yourself with kindness – thoughts, feelings and behaviors!

Our relationship with food includes how we think and talk about food. Both of these drive our behaviors around food. Do you ever think the donuts in the break room at work are ‘calling’ you? Of course, they are not, but it is an indication of your attitude about donuts and how you have experienced them in the past. Consider all of the thoughts you have about and around food for 1 day. Write them down. This awareness of thoughts will give you a good sense of what your unique relationship with food is.

Growing self awareness will help to see what triggers you to eat. If you are not physically hungry why do you eat? Consider that eating can truly only solve those problems associated with hunger and a physical need for nourishment. We are triggered to eat in “non-hunger” ways. Some examples include when physically tired or when feeling anxiety or having worried thoughts. Why do you eat when not hungry? Make a note of it – become aware.

You may discover that you have some eating behaviors you wish to change. Permanent changes in troublesome eating habits usually don’t happen through control and willpower, but by personal awareness and acceptance of what’s happening in that moment of eating. In the next blog edition we will explore how new health habits emerge with self awareness and acceptance.

Ann Reidenbach, MPH, RD, CD of Reidenbach Nutrition, LLC

Finding a Quick and Easy Dinner for Two

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This Week’s Recipe

I was talking to my parents last night on the phone, both of whom are retired and live in Florida, and they were talking about what to have for dinner. Ever since I was a child my mom has not enjoyed cooking and did not look forward to making dinner each night. But every night when my dad would get home from work there was a hot home cooked meal prepared by her on the table to enjoy. Last night was pretty typical as they were trying to decide what they were going to have for dinner and they didn’t want chicken breasts again. Since they are living in a 55 and older community often they are busy with church, volunteer work, social events and activities, but last night they were staying in.

We may know a home cooked meal is a healthier option than eating out, but that doesn’t mean we all enjoy cooking. Sometimes it seems like it is hard to think of a meal that I haven’t cooked over and over (like my mom and chicken breasts!). The internet can be a life saver for finding quick and easy recipes. Put a shout out to Facebook friends for their favorite recipes or hop on Pinterest. I told my mom about some new recipes I had pinned on Pinterest and that she should check them out and try them with my dad. One of them was a shrimp stir fry that was really tasty and easy to make for just two people. I look forward to hearing if they enjoyed it and I hope you give it a try too. Let us know if you enjoyed the recipe!

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Bethany Clapper, Director of Development & Marketing and Mother of Two

National Drug Fact Week

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January 26-30 is National Drug Fact Week in the US. So why should you care?  Studies show that youth listen when you speak. They may not show great listening skills, or sit down quietly beside you while you talk, but they do listen and they do watch your behavior.

Across the nation, and here in Indiana, abuse of prescription medications by middle school, high school and college age students is increasing.   Prescription medications are the drug-of-choice for 12 and 13 year-olds, abused more commonly than any other drug.  Youth often perceive pain medications such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, or oxycodone to be less dangerous than other narcotic drugs like heroin or opium. Unfortunately, the effect on the brain is the same regardless of whether the narcotic is a prescription with specific instructions to follow, or purchased off the street.

Four in ten teens report that the prescription medication they used came from their parents’ medicine cabinet. Parents can reduce access to prescription medication by monitoring and securing their prescription medications and disposing of any expired or unused medications.

SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) reports that talking to children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse goes a long way. Teens that had learned “a lot” or “a little” from their parents or grandparents about prescription medications were up to 42%   less likely to abuse prescription drugs than teens that reported learning “nothing.”  Family meals can be a perfect time to start that conversation about drug abuse.  Hints for starting the conversation (and making it a conversation and not a lecture!) can be found here.

Linda Hathaway
Director of Curriculum & Education and Mother of Six

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